The Teachings of Shirelle: Life Lessons from a Divine KnuckleheadThe Teachings of Shirelle: Life Lessons from a Divine Knucklehead by Douglas Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t generally like memoirs or autobiography-like books so I tend to avoid them. But this one was about the lessons a dog can teach us so I was very willing to read it.

When I first started reading it, I quickly became annoyed by the ignorance the author was showing towards dog behaviour and dog training. I stopped reading it and continued the next day. Then I realised, during this short break that I took from the book, that I was reading it all wrong!

I was paying way too much attention to what is proper training and not to what the story was about. I was using, as Shirelle tought me later, my brain to read this book while I should have been using my heart. Why does it matter if Shirelle was not the best behaving dog on the planet? Why does it matter that she most of the times was annoying? What matters is that this dog was the perfect companion for this author. And he was so amazed by what Shirelle had to teach him that he wanted to share the teachings of Shirelle with us.

I especially appreciated the honesty of the author in this memoir. He is not ashamed to share some very personal moments of failure and he remained sincere throughout the story. This is not a fictional story; there is no perfect bittersweet ending. But I do appreciate the imperfections because life is not perfect.

Another aspect of the book that I really enjoyed was the true love and companionship that Green expressed to us, the readers, about his dog. It makes me very happy when people get to experience this level of connection with another animal and are not ashamed to share it with others. Green is not afraid to explain that Shirelle was one of the most important things in his life.

You see, here’s the bitter fact about dogs. We can trust them in ways we can’t trust other people, because we know they can’t lie. And they love and trust us equally, because they don’t understand that we can.

I liked the philosophies that the author was sharing throughout the book, even if I didn’t agree with all of them. You can’t always agree with everything after all. But some quotes are very powerful. Even if you want, you can’t lie to dogs. Dogs are instinctual and they have a really powerful instinct. They see right through us, they know how we feel even when we don’t.

How would it feel to be passionate about everything? To, instead of sighing, “I haven’t accomplished anything today,” exult, “There’s so much I want to do!”

Living in the moment! A very big lesson.
I didn’t expect to like this memoir so much. If you like dogs or if you are thinking about getting a dog or if you have a dog that is a knucklehead (like most of them are) read this book. Even if you start reading The Teachings of Shirelle: Life Lessons from a Divine Knucklehead with your brain like I did, Shirelle will definitely show you how to continue with your heart.

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